New Arrivals For February 2020

Winter NAMM 2020 has been and gone, and now we wait for announcements to become shipping product … and then to reach the UK, which can sometimes take months longer.

I’ve pre-ordered a couple of things that were announced at (or around) NAMM. They’re going to take up most of my gear budget this year. The PRS S2 Singlecut McCarty 594 might arrive by the summer. We already know that Neural DSP’s Quad Cortex won’t arrive until the autumn at the earliest. At least I don’t have to wait as long for the Lark (Rhett Shull’s new signature pedal from Mythos Pedals); that should ship in March.

I’m still keeping an eye out for interesting bits of gear, but it’s got to be pretty special – and at a special price. By and large, I’m only looking to pickup pedals to help me fill in the gaps in my collection, or provide complementary tones for recording with.

Finally, I may have finished my planned revamp of the home studio, but now I’m sitting down to use it, I’m finding that a few things need sorting out, and that there’s a few gaps that are nagging at me a bit. I’m going to be tackling those, but not all in a single month 🙂

Here’s what arrived this month.

Two Notes Torpedo CAB M

Impulse responses (IRs for short) are a godsend for recording guitars in a home studio. I just want to move them off of my computer, so that the guitar cab emulation happens before the preamp and any plugins I want to use on the way in.

I thought about waiting for the new Two Notes Torpedo Captor X. It looks fantastic, especially in a live setting. I’ve already got the original Captor – which I’m very happy with – and the CAB M is the cheapest way to add an IR device right now.

I had a lot to say about the CAB M – not all of it positive – in my First Impressions blog post. I’ll also say this: after moving IRs onto the CAB M, I’m happy with my guitar tone in a way that I’ve never been before.

Lewitt MTP 440 DM Microphone

One thing that I want to do this year is to make impulse responses of my own cabs. I just don’t have the space to keep my cabs mic’ed up all the time, and it isn’t easy to recreate guitar tones when you’re having to tear everything down on an evening.

I’ve read quite a few reviews where people reported that the Lewitt MTP 440 microphone was a great choice for getting a recorded tone that sounded like the amp and cab. That sounds ideal for making IRs. They’re about the same price as a Shure SM57 too. It should also help me with my Kemper profiles too.

To be honest, I’ve been enjoying the Two Notes Torpedo CAB M so much, I just haven’t done anything at all with this microphone yet, other than unbox it to make sure it arrived.

Lovepedal 4-Knob Brownface Deluxe Overdrive Pedal

Lovepedal is one of those pedal brands that I’m quietly really enjoying. The Amp 11 is one of my favourite drive pedals of all time, and the Tchula Black Mamba is the pedal I always take with me whenever I’m going to try out a new amp or guitar. I’ve also really liked pedals like the JTM, Jubilee, Champ and Blackface Deluxe that aim to emulate classic amp tones.

As the tweed / vintage American amp sound seems to be my thing right now, I’m keeping an eye out for any Lovepedal pedals that fall into that. They’re pretty rare on the second hand market in the UK, and often go for more than I want to spend on them. It’s going to take me quite a while to collect them.

I’m not expecting the Brownface Deluxe to push the Sweet Honey Overdrive (SHOD for short) or Fender MTG off my pedal board. By all accounts, it’s not really a standalone overdrive pedal. I’m hoping it’ll go nicely into my Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 to give me a different flavour of clean tone. I love seeking out complimentary tones for recording guitar. If it gives me that, I’ll be happy enough.

Turns out, it was a little better than that …

Danelectro Cash Cow Distortion Pedal

I’ve had a couple of the pedals from Danelectro’s Billionaire series so far, and I’ve been very impressed with just how good they are. They’re not just good pedals for the money, they’re simply good pedals. I would like to try them all.

Despite the big promotional push when they first launched, they rarely turn up second hand. When they do, sellers tend to ask too much for them. I guess they’re not aware that here in the UK, whoever distributes these pedals dumped their stocks through outlet stores a couple of years or so ago. I guess that didn’t go too well, or I’d have seen a more regular supply of them by now!

The Cash Cow promises to be the series’ first (and, so far, only!) proper drive pedal for clean amps. Outside of YouTube, I couldn’t find any decent reviews of this pedal … so I’m looking forward to when it arrives 🙂

It didn’t turn out to be quite what I was expecting …

Fender The Trapper Fuzz Pedal

What the hell am I doing, buying a fuzz pedal? I’m not a fuzz person at all. The electricity here is full of the kind of noise that fuzz pedals can’t wait to amplify and shove right back in your face. Why, why why?!?

I’m a huge fan of Fender’s drive pedals. Every one of them has a sound inside them that I want to use. And, just like the early Mad Professor pedals, I’ve been collecting them all. With The Trapper, I’ve now got every Fender drive pedal (for guitar) that’s actually made it to market.

It was a good purchase.

First Impressions: Lovepedal 4-Knob Brownface Deluxe Overdrive Pedal

I’ve just picked up a second-hand Brownface Deluxe Overdrive pedal off eBay. What do I think of it? Here’s my first impressions.

tl;dr

When I stuck the right pedal in front of it to act as a boost, the Brownface Deluxe rewarded me with the nicest Strat bridge pickup lead tone I’ve ever had.

Why Did I Buy It?

There’s a couple of reasons why I’ve bought this particular pedal.

  • I’ve had quite a few of Lovepedal’s Amp-In-A-Box (AIAB for short) pedals. So far, I’ve really enjoyed the ones that I’ve had.
  • As I’m honing ‘my’ sound, it seems to be the sound of old Fender amps. Well, the sound of pedals that are chasing that sound, at any rate.

I haven’t seen too many of these in recent months, so when it turned up on eBay for a reasonable price, I decided to grab it.

I’m glad I did.

Strat Bridge Pickup Heaven

It took me about 10 minutes to work out that this pedal is voiced for the bridge pickup of a Strat. That’s its sweet spot, and it’s very sweet.

No matter how much you crank the gain knob, I couldn’t hear any actual drive until I also ran the bass knob past 12 o’clock. I can’t think of another pedal I’ve tried that works like that. Normally the drive is in the mids or upper mids.

It’s nice to find something that offers a different option.

I Heard That It’s Low Gain?

If you do an online search for reviews of this pedal, you’ll find quite a few forum posts from people who’ve had one, but didn’t hang onto it. They were after the sound of a cranked Fender brown face amp. This pedal definitely does not deliver that.

There is some breakup if you dig in. Once I discovered that, it didn’t take long for me to stop digging in just for a bit of grit. The pedal’s really dynamic, with a significant volume jump whenever I dig in.

This is a pedal that needs to have the frontend slammed.

Pick And Choose Your Signal Chain Carefully

To my ears, this pedal does not like being second in the chain behind anything that’s bright. And that (sadly) includes the Klon with its bright internal buffer.

Part of the problem is that the EQ controls on the Brownface Deluxe don’t take any prisoners. Anything outside the 10 o’clock-2 o’clock range quickly sounds wrong, honky and horrible in a way that my brain just says “nope!” to. It doesn’t leave a lot of scope to adjust this pedal to whatever is hitting it.

The other part of the problem is that this pedal filters the top end and boosts the low end. That’s what makes it sound so good with a Strat neck pickup. Stick a bright pedal in front of it, and the filtering strips out what makes that pedal work. The result varies from flat to uncomfortable.

I found I was much better off running the Brownface Deluxe’s tone controls between 12 noon and 2 o’clock, and adjusting the guitar and pedals in front of the Brownface Deluxe instead. When I did, I thought the results sounded fantastic.

I’d go as far as saying it might just be the nicest Strat bridge pickup lead sound I’ve had to date.

Boosts That Go Well With The Brownface Deluxe

Okay, so I didn’t like it with the Klon. What do I like boosting it with? I’ve tried boosting it with a few other pedals, and got great results out of:

  • Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor (this thing is great for goosing amps and other pedals)
  • SviSound OverZoid OD1 (I love this pedal so much)
  • MP Audio Blue Brit (such a fantastic boost pedal)
  • Keeley Super Phat Mod (Boss BD-2 Blues Driver on steroids)
  • Keeley 1962x
  • Lovepedal Tchula Black Mamba

I’ve also had good results out of:

  • Xotic EP booster
  • Ibanez Mini Tubescreamer
  • Keeley Oxblood
  • Timmy v2
  • JHS Morning Glory v4

The main differences between the two groups were how the upper mids sounded, and how stiff the overall rig suddenly felt.

They’re all very good and very usable, but I’ll be using the Brownface Deluxe with either the Tchula Black Mamba or the SviSound OverZoid OD1.

What Is It Like With Humbuckers?

I’m finding the pedal’s a bit dark for humbuckers. It chops off the highs and boosts the lows, and ends up sounding dull and muddy with humbuckers.

I’ll come back and explore this a lot more another time.

Final Thoughts

I’m currently working on an (overdue!) demo of my Elite Strat, before it goes into the shop for a pickup swap. I’m going to be using Fender’s MTG for the lead parts with my Strat’s neck pickup.

I didn’t have a Strat neck pickup sound for the demo. Now I do.

New Arrivals For July 2019

This month has been a month of two very different stories: guitars and pedals.

On the guitar front, I’ve been very fortunate to find a couple of guitars that blew my socks right off. Proper love-at-the-first-note through an amp fairytale stuff. Fairytales don’t always have a happy ending, mind, so do check back in the months ahead to learn whether these do (or don’t)!

Pedals have been much more of a mixed bag. Good deals have been hard to come by this month, with a lot of people chasing a smaller pool of 2nd hand gear. Maybe it’s the summer months, or maybe it’s the renewed uncertainty here in Britain atm? Either way, I hope things pick up.

I’m doing something a bit different this month. Rather than try and squeeze my first impressions into 3 or 4 paragraphs (to keep these ‘New Arrivals’ posts short), I’ve started breaking them out into separate posts that I’m linking to from here. It gives me a bit more space to talk about each piece of gear. Do you like it? Or do you prefer the ‘all-in-one’ format I’ve been using up to now? Let me know in the comments below.

Continue reading “New Arrivals For July 2019”

New Arrival: Lovepedal JTM

Look what’s sheltering from the #heatwaveuk with me today: the Lovepedal JTM drive pedal.

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I’ve plugged it in to check it works. It’s 26C in here, which is too hot for me. Don’t want a valve amp making the room even warmer today.

It’ll have to wait for cooler weather before I spend quality time with it.

New Arrivals For April

Last month, I made a very unplanned purchase – the Custom Shop Les Paul Special. I got it for less than a brand-new Gibson USA Standard costs (not the first time that’s happened), but still … The next few months are going to be about exceptional bargains or rare items only – or things I need for gigging.

Not that it really matters. The 2nd hand gear market seems to have dried up quite badly this month. Even eBay “sell for £1” weekends haven’t had their normal impact. Will things pick up in May?

Here’s a list of all the new gear that arrived in April, along with my first impressions of each item. I’ll post a separate, detailed post about each item when I’ve had a bit of time to get to know it better.

Continue reading “New Arrivals For April”

New Arrivals For January

The turning of the year can be a great time to hunt for new (to you) guitar gear. The second hand market is normally flooded with folks who are moving on gear they no longer want – or sadly can no longer afford to keep. And there’s Winter NAMM, where brands large and small drop announce new products.

I’ve been lucky enough to pick up some stuff that I’m interested in, and I thought I’d share it with you. Some of it is new to me, and some of it is me taking a second look at things I’ve had before but didn’t gel with. And there’s a few very special items too.

I’m going to do full articles on each of them, once I’ve had a bit of time with them. For now, here’s the very first impressions for you.

Continue reading “New Arrivals For January”

That Pedal Show: Josh Smith Board and Lesson

It’s a long one this week – even by their standards – which is why I’ve only just gotten to it.

Dan and Mick take a tour of Josh’s board, including an in-depth look at the Lovepedal Tchula. The Tchula was Josh’s idea. It’s basically two Church of Tone (COT) pedals in one enclosure, with the left hand side fixed at Josh’s favourite setting, and the right hand side adjustable to suit. I can’t think of anything else quite like it.

I loved the segment where the guys had a schwang on Josh’s Tele, which is strung with 13s (!!) It’s fascinating to listen to how different each of them sound, playing the same guitar through the same rig.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment in you enjoy their video.